James Bonnell, Esq. was born at Genoa, Mr. BonNovember 14, 1653. He was son (by Re- nell's birth

and family. becca, daughter of Thomas Sayer, near Norwich, Esq.) to Samuel Bonnell, merchant, who resided some time at Genoa, and many years at Leghorn; where the great trade he carried on, his sweet and obliging behaviour, but especially the piety and integrity of his life, procured him great credit and esteem. His grandfather was Daniel Bonnell, of London, merchant: his great grandfather, Thomas Bonnell, a gentleman of a good family, near Ipres in Flanders, who, to avoid Duke D'Alva's fury, then cruelly persecuting the Protestants in the Low Countries, transported himself and his family into England, and settled at Norwich ; where he was so well received, and so much esteemed, as to be afterwards chosen mayor of that city. Thus a zeal for religion, professed in its greatest purity, was Mr. Bonnell's


hereditary virtue ; what he derived from his ancestors, and constantly maintained himself in times of greatest difficulty and danger.

Samuel Bonnell, father of James Bonnell, His father's after being bred up under Sir William Cour

teen, knight, one of the greatest merchants of his time, and for some time entrusted with the sole management of his affairs, applied himself to the Italian trade at Leghorn, which he did with such success, that about the year 1649, he was worth at least ten thousand pounds, and his credit much greater than his fortune : but both were soon impaired by several accidents, by great losses at sea, but particularly by his zeal for the royal family; of whose sufferings he ever had a most tender sense, and whom he privately supplied with considerable sums of money: and there yet remain letters to him from the then queen mother, King Charles the Second, and his brother the Duke of York, “ Acknowledging his fast friendship to them, and the supplies they had so seasonably received from him, and recommending Mr. Killegrew to him, whom they sent to promote their interests in those parts." All the losses and misfortunes which befel him, he bore with great submission to the will of God; and composed many devout meditations upon those melancholy occasions, which yet remain among his son's papers, most of which were for his wife's use, and sent to her when he was forced to be absent from her: and both those papers,

and the informations of some who knew him, particularly the reverend Mr. Strype, minister of Low-Leyton, near London, nephew to Samuel Bon


and is made



nell, and his son's constant friend, do all concur in this; that he was a man of great sweetness of temper, sincere virtue, and exemplary piety.

About the year 1655, Samuel Bonnell His father setremoved with his family into England; tles in England, and upon the restoration of the royal Accomptant family, the services he had done them, General in Ireand his known abilities for such an employment, procured him a patent to be Accomptant General of the revenue of Ireland, his son's life being included in the patent with his own. But this he was not long possessed of, for he died in the year 1664, leaving his son James Bonnell, and one daughter, to the care of his wife, a woman of singular piety and prudence, both which she employed in the education of her son, chiefly in giving a right tincture to his mind, and seasoning it with the love of virtue and religion.

After he had been instructed in the first rudiments of learning in Dublin, he was sent to Trim school, and committed to the care of the reverend Doctor Tenison, afterwards Lord Bishop of Meath ; by whose instructions he equally improved in learning and religion ; and so great a sense had he of his master's kindness and care, that he mentions it more than once in his private papers, with very grateful acknowledgements : and his lordship always remembered with pleasure Mr. Bonnell's early accomplishments; and was pleased thus to express himself concerning him ; “ He then signalized himself for sweetness of humour and good-nature, and was from a child of a most innocent and gentle behaviour, never inclined to any vice, but strictly religious, and extraordinarily ingenious : and made such great progress in his studies, that he went early to the university, and acquired a great deal of learning in a short time, as I found when he returned to this kingdom, and came to visit me.”

But as Mr. Bonnell, through the whole His early course of his life, was chiefly remarkable for piety.

his great piety; so it is the history of his piety the reader is here chiefly to expect; and though I shall not omit any of the material passages of his life, yet I shall principally enlarge upon his piety : and that took very early possession of his heart, and prevented the suggestions of Satan, and temptations of the world. The first books he read with pleasure, were those of devotion; and the care of his parents and instructors was so blessed, by the grace of God, that he set out betimes in the way to heaven ; prosecuted his journey with indefatigable diligence, and persevered in it to the last.

And that Mr. Bonnell's piety was of this early growth, I shall shew, by inserting here at large his own account of it, which I find among his private

I papers,

“ From the beginning of my life," says Written anno he, “ I had a great sense of piety. Lord ! 1675, in the 22nd year of my corruptions I had from nature, I

brought them with me into the world; this was thy grace, thy gift, thy undeserved favour. I remember the great delight I took in reading books of devotion at ten years old, and said then to my mother,

If we were as holy as David, how happy should we

his age.

be ?' At eleven years old, I used to get up from my bed-fellows on Sunday mornings, to say the prayers for that day, out of the Practice of Piety, which was sent me as a token from a friend, and which I was pleased with, as an invaluable present. At twelve I remember I found it difficult at waking to begin with God, as the Practice of Piety directs, and therefore I writ out the words which are there proposed to be said, and put them under my pillow, to have them ready at waking. At thirteen, I had read several books of piety and devotion. In the perusal of the Practice of Piety, I was pleased with the proposal of a methodical course of religion, and allured with the arguments it uses to urge it; having been all along possessed that it was my duty, so I was more easily inclined to it. At length, by my intense reading of this book, and being delighted with the meditations, soliloquies, and passionate passages of it, my whole thoughts were taken up with the things of another world, and I grew cool to all the delights of this. While these thoughts were upon me, the Lord's-day came welcome to me, which I was prepared to sanctify, according to the directions of my book, and former instructions, which I had long before received with my education ; but never found myself so willing to practise them, as then. On that day, my thoughts were wholly taken up with religious contemplations; so that when I went into my chamber in the evening, and there made a recollection of my whole life, according to the schemes for examination, which I had in the Practice of Piety and other books, and being taken up in an intense con

« VorigeDoorgaan »